Booktrovert Reader Podcast

Epic Fantasy Author Interview: Z.S Diamanti writer of Stone & Sky

December 21, 2023 Charity the Booktrovert Reader Season 2 Episode 42
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
Epic Fantasy Author Interview: Z.S Diamanti writer of Stone & Sky
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript

On this book podcast episode, Charity Booktrovert Reader epic fantasy writer, ZS Diamanti, the creative force behind Stone and Sky.

This is an fantasy book author interview you don't want to miss.

Also, watch this on YouTube: HERE

  • Character Development Insights: Dive deep into the intricacies of character development as ZS Diamanti reveals the secrets behind the multifaceted protagonists that populate the series.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Revelations: Gain exclusive behind-the-scenes insights into the inspirations and creative process that breathe life into the valiant heroes of Stone and Sky.
  • Balancing Strength and Vulnerability: Discover the delicate balance between strength and vulnerability that makes these characters both relatable and awe-inspiring.
  • Evolution of Heroes: Explore the character arcs that unfold across the series, showcasing growth, adaptability, and defining moments of courage and sacrifice.
  • Moral Dilemmas and Relationships: Uncover the moral dilemmas faced by these heroes and the intricate relationships that bind them together, adding depth to the narrative.
  • Impact on the Series: Understand the profound impact these heroes have on shaping the epic tapestry of the Stone and Sky series.
  • Insightful Conversations: Engage with captivating discussions, anecdotes, and fascinating details about the heroes' personalities and their contributions to the fantastical universe of the books.
  • For Fans and Aspiring Writers: Whether you're a fan eager for insider knowledge or an aspiring writer seeking insights into character creation, this episode promises a captivating exploration.

Link for connecting on social media would be: https://zsdiamanti.com/links

Link for Free Preludes is: https://FreeFantasyFiction.com

Blog Article From Booktrovert Reader: HERE

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Z.S Diamanti Interview: Author of Stone & Sky

 U1 

 0:00 

 Time. It's time to write a book. It's time to write a book. We've been doing this. We've been selling short stories. It's been going great. Wonderful. But I really want to write a book. I've been dying to write a fantasy for my whole life, and I didn't even know it. And I was so ready to do it. And Stone, this guy was born, right? Right. 

 U2 

 0:20 

 Hello readers, this is your host charity with Booktrovert Reader Podcast. I have an exciting guest with me today. His name is ZS Diamanti. That's how he taught me how to do it. ZS Diamanti, he is a fantastic indie author that wrote Stone and Sky. It's an epic fantasy that he has written this year and published. It's out now, so I would love to introduce him to you guys and tell me and the readers about yourself. 

 U1 

 0:47 

 Hey, what's going on, guys? Uh, I already said I'm ZS Diamanti. Uh, you guys can call me Zach. That's what most people call me 1s when we're when we're out and about. That's what most people call me or dad, because, uh, most, most of the people that talk to me are just my kids, but whatever. Uh, I spend a lot of time in this room right here where you see all these books and, uh, at this desk, because I spent a lot of time writing or working on writing stuff. So, uh, I am a fantasy author, as you know, Stone and Sky, who? Epic fantasy adventure just came out, uh, in August, August 29th this year. Super excited about that. Um, and book two is already done. We've got, uh, a test print that we are going through right now. Uh, okay. We're putting all our little sticky notes, finding all the little formatting errors that we got to fix for the final copy. And, uh, that one is almost done. So we're getting ready to publish that in February, which is super exciting. And then book three in the the trilogy is complete, uh, in July and June. It comes out the first week of June. So we're a little. Let's see. I'm. Two thirds of the way through the first draft of that one. And we'll obviously go through all our rounds of editing before, uh, June. But hey, we're already where are he trucking along. So if you're ready to go on an adventure, let's go. Right. Yeah. 

 U2 

 2:15 

 So I'm assuming, are you a considered a fast rider? Because that's pretty quick. Unless you had all these books written before you start 

 U1 

 2:24 

 publishing. So I'm not I'm not necessarily a fast. So I had a conversation with another indie author the other day. Um, Andy Poliquin, I don't know if you guys know who he is. Dragon. Uh, he does the, uh, Dark Blade Assassin's series and, uh, Dragon Blade Assassin series. He's another fantasy guy, and he, uh, he was talking. We were talking about, you know, how fast he writes. He writes, you know, he can write, like, 200,000 words of book and two months or something like crazy. This guy's crazy so fast where I'm like, I mean, I could get my 120,000 word fantasy in, uh, about two, two and change months. Okay, so, like, I'm not as fast as he is. I wouldn't say I'm fast. I'm probably not the slowest out there, but, uh, I wouldn't say I'm fast. Frankly. I had stone and stone and sky was actually done, uh, back in December of, of last year. And, uh, I just waited all the way until August 29th this year to publish it in order to, you know, set up a good foundation for us to launch off of. 

 U2 

 3:35 

 Right. You wrote Stone and Sky. You got the second one coming out. 

 U1 

 3:39 

 Yeah. Soon. Stone in tied 

 U2 

 3:41 

 stone in tied dye. Yes. And. Yeah. How long have you been writing fantasy in general? 

 U1 

 3:48 

 Sure. Yeah. Uh, so it started way back when. Way back when? When I was a kid. And actually I didn't have glasses as a kid, but I really needed them, so I like I hated reading, like, I couldn't read, okay. Like it was bad. And, uh, until until a teacher put the hobbit in my hand. Okay. I was so dialed into that book, it didn't matter how many times I reread a line, I just I could not stop. And I read all the way through that book and I was like, I love it. I want everything like this in my life. And I think the next week I wrote, um, my first story, uh, called The Hobbit. Very original. Um, super, super original. Uh, and it was about this monkey creature who, uh, got to go on an adventure. And so anyways, that, um, has since been buried or burned or lost in some sort of, uh, trash somewhere, you know? Yeah. Right. And and that was that was really my start with fantasy. Right. But, uh, really, when I joined the Air Force. So I was in the Air Force and I joined the Air Force, they were like, dude, you need glasses, and I got glasses. And all of a sudden I could read and I could see. And I was like, wow. Like, is this what everybody else could see? Like, it was amazing. And so I started reading everything I could and, uh, just devouring everything, especially like classic stuff like, uh, Edgar Rice Burroughs, like Tarzan and John Carter of Mars and, you know, all these old school things. And it was so glorious and wonderful. And when I came back from Afghanistan, it was like, uh, there were some things that I went through that changed me. And I really needed a different outlet because I'm an illustrator and draw, but I need a different outlet, something to let my words out. And so I started writing, and I started writing stories and articles and horror stories and kind of like, the whole gamut. Right? Uh, right. Got, you know, sci fi stories, kind of everything. But recently, in the last two years, I was like, it's time. It's time to write a book. It's time to write a book. We've been doing this. We've been selling short stories. It's been going great, wonderful. But I really want to write a book. I've been dying to write a fantasy for my whole life, and I didn't even know it. And I was so ready to do it. And Stone, this guy was born, right? 

 U2 

 6:27 

 Right. Just no big deal. The flop hit the flop. 

 U1 

 6:31 

 Yeah. Far cry from the flop. It. It's a stone in the sky. Thank goodness 

 U2 

 6:37 

 I did that. Like every time I say it's like the flashback guy. 

 U1 

 6:42 

 Hahahahaha. Yeah right. Exactly. Yeah. 

 U2 

 6:45 

 So what I really liked about reading Stone and Sky was that it reminded me a lot of Lord of the rings, and because the journey, orcs, goblins and all that fun stuff and you got your main, your main character who, you know, reminded me of Aragorn. And not saying you poached a story, but like, I'm assuming that's kind of like where you got some of your inspiration from. Was the Lord of the rings. Sure, 

 U1 

 7:11 

 yeah. Lord of the rings played a huge part in my life, you know? Again, because The Hobbit was like the first book I read that I like, actually loved and actually genuinely made it through and enjoyed. Right. Um, in fact, it made me enjoy books to the point where, like, I went and read like The Old Man in the sea, and I loved it, but it was still such a struggle for me to read at growing up. So it my reading repertoire was very small, and so what we ended up doing was me and my brother. We shared a room for years and years and years, right? Bunk beds and everything. And we still stay up at night. Yeah. And we would stay up at night and we would tell each other's stories. Right. And we would. It was like our own homebrew D&D, like sleepover D&D, right? Or whatever. Right. And so that's where a lot of storytelling came in. But then as I grew and I got glasses and I started reading all these other books, I was like, oh my gosh, there's so much more out here. But I always have those, like, roots with like Lord of the rings and epic, classic style fantasy. That's and that's really what I wanted to bring across is that kind of classic style fantasy, right. The Stone and Sky series. 

 U2 

 8:34 

 Yeah. Because I was, you know, I was when I was reading it, I was like, wow, this sounds like that, that classic style fantasy you mentioned. I was like, wow, that reminds me so much of that. And it's told in a very unique way that I enjoyed and which is the multiple POVs. And we even get perspective of like, goblin and an orc, and I think it was an orc. Yeah. And I was like, whoa, you know, even though these are the bad guys, you gave them a character and a personality. So I really, really enjoyed that because the Lord of the rings fan, I was like, you know, you they're always like, not the subject, but they're the antagonist per se. So and, you know, here's a random 

 U1 

 9:15 

 question. Yeah. 

 U2 

 9:17 

 Um, do you think they did The Hobbit movie justice for the book? 

 U1 

 9:24 

 All right. This is a loaded question. So, um. All right, all right, all right, all right. So here here's what I'll say. I'll say that the extended edition of The Hobbit movies is far, far, far, far superior to the regular edition that they, that they put out, to be honest. Right. We I only I've only watched the extended edition of The Hobbit recently. Like I think it was last year was the first time we, you know, we've loved the extended editions of Lord of the rings or whatever, but The Hobbit, we were always kind of like, ah, it's just it's okay. It's all right. It's it's it's I. But boy, I tell you what, we got the extended editions and we were like, this is way better. Like, why didn't they just make this the regular edition? Because this is so much better. So. Ye. No. And yes, you know, on regular edition. Yes, they did much better on Extended Edition. And actually my, my kids and I, we listen to audiobooks in the car on the way to school. And, uh, we've been listening to The Hobbit and Andy Circus does, uh, does the reading of it. And my son just losing his mind, he's like, oh my gosh, he sounds just like Gollum. And I'm like, dude, he like, Is Gollum like you do not like, try to explain it. It's not like he's like his impression is so good. And I'm like. Yep, yep it is, it is. 2s So hopefully I don't get burned for that. Uh, extended extended edition. Okay, guys, settle down. 

 U2 

 11:07 

 I like the Lord of the rings Lord of the Rings Extended Edition. So much better than the regular one, 

 U1 

 11:13 

 I discovered it, yeah. Chef's kiss. Totally agree. I mean, we do it every Christmas break. It's like we'll watch all six of them. And it's like. I mean, it's like 20 something hours. It's like a whole day. It's ridiculous. 

 U2 

 11:30 

 I didn't rewatch, but I was calling the old person card and fell asleep for the first one, so I got to get my act together. 

 U1 

 11:37 

 Yeah it is. It happens to me too, because I know you know all the lines. So you're like. And then you're back up already know what happened? Do you know where we are? I still know where we are. We're good. 

 U2 

 11:49 

 No! They went Aragon! Woohoo! 

 U1 

 11:51 

 Um, yeah. Right. 

 U2 

 11:53 

 So going back to the book, we deviated just a bit. Um, what inspired you to write the multiple POVs of With the Goblin and Orc and everything? Because I thought that was a fun way to tell a story of even the bad guys. 

 U1 

 12:09 

 Yeah. Right. Right. And so in Stone and Sky, you know, especially you're coming into it and they are this ominous bad guys, right? Uh, right. All the people, all the humans are talking about them. And, and it's very clear that these guys are the bad guys. Right? These are who the Griffon guard protects us from. Right? Right. Is the Wyvern riding orcs of the North. But I also I love worldbuilding, and I love the idea of, um, people coming together. Right. And so I knew that the theme of the book was going to be hope, right? This hope for something better. Right? And, um, especially over the last few years, we've seen a lot in our, like, our real world. There's been a lot of division and things, and I wanted to write something that just brings everybody together, like it brings peoples together that shouldn't technically be together or like that in their brains, in their minds. It doesn't make sense for them to be together. Right? And so in order to do that, I had to make the goblins and the orcs and the trolls like this whole nation of people. People. Right. They couldn't just be these monsters in the North. They couldn't be just these monsters in the mountains. They had to be people with families and with lives where they interact. And they have. They cook and they have food, and they have their own culture, and they they go and they enjoy Glaube wine, this new, wonderful drink that this goblins come up with, right? This entrepreneurial goblin who just wants to go out and make it rich, right? You know, like I wanted them to be real people, right and right. So it was so much fun to really play with that because I got to it got to be so different. Right. And it was just it was something I wanted to do, like right from the outset. So I knew I had to start with, you know, Oren and his, uh, you know, the loss of his squadron. I knew that's where we had to start, because that's where the journey was going to begin. Right? And that's how we were going to get to explore the rest of the world of fin Nestea, because we had to go on a journey, man. We could throw everybody on Gryphon back and they fly over there and then their in a couple of days and boom, we're done. Right? Like the story's over there. It was right now we had to like no it's got to be hard to get there. So we need this uh journey to get there. But we get to play with all these other characters and all these other cultures because they're running into these different people groups. And then, of course, everything all comes together towards the end. And, you know, we got to bring all these different people groups and all these different POVs to the same place, which was really fascinating. 

 U2 

 15:09 

 Right. Yeah. Because, you know, we were getting to the point where we're at least where I was at is that they just suddenly it's like, what do you want? I want to say to not ruin anything. Um, 1s um, I know it's like, just how 

 U1 

 15:24 

 do I talk without spoilers? 

 U2 

 15:26 

 Yeah, because you got little nuggets in there that is. Makes this story very compelling to keep going because you don't throw your cards all at once. You have to, like, keep going on the journey with them to kind of understand some things. And so I'm like, hmm. So where I was at was they just they started attacking each other and everything. You know, Oren and his group were against the Goblin. I, you know, I wish I kind of wrote his name down because it's such a unique name. And, you know, Nita, how would you say it? Like a glossary. 

 U1 

 16:02 

 Yeah, right. Yeah, I know 

 U2 

 16:03 

 I probably should. Karnak. Karnak 

 U1 

 16:05 

 book. Yeah. Right. Right. Karnak is our main orc, right? The the main route that we follow through the book. Right? 

 U2 

 16:12 

 Yeah. And I don't know why. I just, like, glued Karnak. Because you wrote he's supposed to be the bad guy, like you said. Yeah, but he's so human or in his culture. And you created such a personality, I instantly, like, latched on to him more than Oren did. Yeah. So. Right. Sorry. 

 U1 

 16:31 

 No no no no no. And I think that's great. So one of the fun things, one of the most fun things that I found with this book is because I've got, I got to write so many different POVs, right. Uh, it it really was in this basically in all the books is how it worked out is who we're following this group because they're going like, they're going somewhere and this group's going somewhere and this group's going somewhere. So each POV kind of jumps from group to group, right? And even in the second book and the third book, we have different POVs because this group is over here, they're doing something different than this group is. Right. And so we got to keep track of where everybody is. And one of the really, really cool things about, uh, doing it that way and having these multiple POVs is you get to be personal with these different characters. And it's been so fascinating to hear from different people who their favorite characters are because, like, they didn't even expect this character was going to be one that they were going to get so close to throughout the book. They didn't even expect this character. It has been so fun, and I think that was because that was so fun to do. I actually wrote the pre prelude story. So um, this this one here. The Estonian Sky Preludes collection. I actually wrote the prelude stories for all these characters, uh, after I wrote the the first book, because I had so much fun writing with all these different characters that I was like, man, it would be so much fun to jump in with this character and jump in with this character and write with this character and write with this character. It would be so much fun to do that. So I ended up writing seven of them. You know, like about different characters that you meet in the in the series. Right? So it the that has been one of the most fun things is people telling me which character is their favorite, because, yeah, Oren's name is on the back of the book, right? It's the, you know, uh, he's the lone guardian, the lone survivor of his squadron. But man, there's so many other wonderful characters that people get to know, right? 

 U2 

 18:37 

 Yeah, which is surprising because you don't, you know, when you read the back of the book or. Right, and then you suddenly just slap to the orc and you're like, wait, I like that. 

 U1 

 18:48 

 Oh, okay, where are we going? Here. Yeah. 

 U2 

 18:52 

 So yeah, I instantly got attached to Karnak because that reason, you know, so just saying people, hopefully that doesn't ruin for people because that for me that was a nice surprise and I loved it. 

 U1 

 19:04 

 I love I loved writing the good guys, the bad guys, everybody in between, uh, mid and in the second book, Stone and tide, I'm just telling you, there's, uh, maybe a villain or two in there that, uh, people are. You're gonna actually 

 U2 

 19:17 

 write them as a villain. Are you gonna make me feel like bad for this villain? I don't 

 U1 

 19:21 

 know, you're gonna have to. I would just leave it at that. I let's just say there's a villain that I've gotten some really positive feedback on. 1s Okay? 

 U2 

 19:30 

 So you're gonna be an author villain, and you're just gonna leave me hanging. All right? Okay, I see how it is. 

 U1 

 19:36 

 I'll send you. Oh. Don't worry. Okay, okay. 2s I won't leave you hanging that bad. 

 U2 

 19:45 

 Well, I'm just glad that you are kind of, in a way, rapid releasing these books. You're not like, yeah, like letting us hang on it for a whole year before you're releasing the next book. What made you decide on that kind of speed of releasing your books like that? 

 U1 

 20:00 

 Yeah, so I took that bullet for you guys. Um, for everybody else, 1s like, so like I said, I finished Stone and Sky, um, in December of last year. Right. And I but at the same time, I also recognized that I had work to do on the author platform side to really build up and prepare for a release. So, uh, as much as I know so many authors, they, you know, they oh, my books done, release done. And I'm like, like I'm trying to I really had to focus and decide what I wanted to do. I didn't want to just write one book. I didn't want to just sell one book. And that's fine if that's what people want to do, because that but that's a different goal altogether, right? Writing one book and selling one book is a different goal altogether than having an author career, right, a long term. I want to write books for the rest of my life. I want to write books that will just bring joy and adventure and wonder into people's lives for the rest of my life. I don't want to just do it once. And so I really had to be patient. I had to play the patient game so that nobody else did. So I had to play the patient game books ready in December. But it's not coming out until August 29th, because I have to build the foundation and get myself ready for that release. I mean, that was building, you know, building website, uh, starting a TikTok. I started a TikTok back in February. Right. And and we've grown so much since then. And by the time, uh, Stone and Sky came out, we had like 20,000 followers on TikTok. And we were having so much fun. Right? And it was so exciting, uh, you know. I had to build all those things. I had to build a readers list. I had to actually establish and build a foundation so that I was ready to be the best author I could be for everybody else. And then, of course, Stone and Sky released. I was already done writing the first draft of Stone and tide, which is wonderful. The I'm pretty sure almost. Let's say we'll be going into final edits for, uh, I almost I almost got 

 U2 

 22:19 

 like, I can write about it. Yeah, we'll we'll be 

 U1 

 22:22 

 at it for book three. Uh, at the same time, Stone and tide is coming out in February. So like, we're we're continually making progress, getting people ready and and having the books ready for everybody and, uh, timely manner so that you don't have to live with, uh, uh, those cliffhangers forever. 

 U2 

 22:45 

 Yeah. One of those 

 U1 

 22:46 

 authors know. 

 U2 

 22:49 

 You're. Would you say that any of your characters was inspired by anybody in your life, by you, because you said that you have a military background? Sure. You know, so that was helped to a little bit with, you know, or a lot whatever you tell me with just the things that have happened in the book and the military sequences and things like that. So tell me about all of that fun 

 U1 

 23:11 

 stuff. Yeah, sure. So I actually grew up in a military family. My dad was in the Air Force, uh, before I was in the Air Force. And so, um, he, he had a different job than I did. I was at Air Force Medical. Um, and he did, uh, different stuff, airplane stuff and then communications. But I grew up in an Air Force family. So my entire life I've been surrounded by, uh, military aircraft. And so I have always been fascinated by it. Right. And it's been something I've loved. You know, we'd always identify the different planes we saw, like, whenever they're flying over. Right. And I thought to myself, I haven't read a whole lot of fantasy books that have aerial combat and that kind of thing in it. And I was like, you know, it'd be really cool if, like, this whole world, like all the different races and groups of peoples had like their different, you know, aerial steeds. Right? Like, so we got gryphons for the humans and we got wyverns for the orcs, and we've got, uh, pegasi for the elves. Right. And we've got, uh, these things called gearbox, which are these, uh, panther like creatures with giant bat like wings and and they're just so fascinating, like the, the lore I've put together for these guys is so cool. And for the dwarves and, uh, and their magical bonds and each of the, you know, each of them have different abilities, right? And so, you know, with this aerial combat, there was there was a lot of inspiration there because, you know, different airplanes have different, you know, abilities and, and capabilities and, and all that. But then also. Having been in the military myself and done the things that I did and and been to Afghanistan and doing those things, there were areas for me to go deep. In loss and grief and heartache and, um, what it feels like to, uh, be away from the fight. So for Orin, you know, he he's he's lost his whole squadron, and he's just motivated to get back. Like, all he wants to do is get back. But while he's getting back, he's in this relationship with these other characters who are actually teaching him that there's actually a little bit more to life than what he thought there was. Right. And so but it's a hard lesson to learn because this is what he's known. This has been his whole life. So he's just trying to get back. Right. And but he's learning these things and he's going actually, maybe there is more and maybe we could be better, right? As the Griffon guard. So that's what he's learning through the process of the first book. And, and uh, I won't I there's so many things I want to go into for the second book, but we're not going to go there. Uh, so we'll just 

 U2 

 26:09 

 leave that. Do you have a time limit to do that for 

 U1 

 26:11 

 the next time? But, uh, but because of my background, there were just so many, uh, deep emotions that I was able to draw on. Um, especially, you know, from the family perspective when you're talking about Karnak or, um, from, uh, Merrick. America is a character that we get some time with that, uh, he's very. He's got this quiet wisdom, this quietness to him, this stillness that I have found over years since my time in the military. Right? So right. There are so many elements that I got to pour out into these different characters. And, I mean, we'd be here all day, probably trying to list them and pinpoint them. All right. It'd be a psychological, fascinating psychological study. 

 U2 

 27:06 

 So yeah. Because now that you described that with the, the, you know, Air Force and the different air transportations basically in the book, I'm like, oh, okay. That's a good interesting connection. I didn't put that 2 to 2 together until you mention that. So I can see how that is heavily inspired as well. So in you're not um, in active right now as, as we speak right 

 U1 

 27:28 

 now. No, I wouldn't be able to have this crazy hair. Oh, yeah, I was. No, those days are long gone for me now. 

 U2 

 27:37 

 So you are pursuing writing full time, correct? 

 U1 

 27:41 

 Yeah. So, uh, just about a year ago, a little over a year ago, um, okay. September of last year. So it was it was about one year from from when I quit my job to win. Stone and Sky was released. And basically that whole year was just prepping and getting ready for Stone and Sky to come out. Right. And like I told you, it was like December and I can't even tell you how many months were hard months where I, you know, I'm working my tail off and working hours and hours and hours every day really trying to make make something happen. Right. It set my set it up for success. Right. And it was. I can't tell you how painful it was, how many times the temptation of just publish it. Then at least some people will be buying it, and then you'll know if it's any good. You'll know if people even like it. Like it. Just so painful to go through that process for so many months and wait to publish it. But since publishing, I mean, it has been. The level of support and love for stone and sky and for me as an author have been just baffling. I we posted I literally today we made a video because we just sold on the TikTok shop. It was our 500th order for an autograph. Stone and Skye on the TikTok shop, right. And and the TikTok shop's not our only place where we sell our the books, but it was like, this is a crazy milestone for when, a year ago, back in February, nobody even knew who I was. Nobody even knew I was an author, right? And nobody even knew I was writing a book. Nobody knew that this dream, this thing, was just on my computer, right? Like it was in my brain and on my computer, right in my heart and on my computer. And it has been just. Unbelievable. I have been so grateful. I have been so. I've been humbled completely by the outpouring of support for Stone and Sky, and it has been just phenomenal now. I can't take some of the illustration jobs that I was doing. I was doing side illustration jobs, uh, to, um, you know, make ends meet, make things happen. But, uh, recently I've had to turn things down because I'm like, I'm sorry, I don't I actually don't have time and I can't, I this is taking over and it's amazing and it's a wonderful problem and it's so, so great. And I've been so thankful. 

 U2 

 30:31 

 Did you, um, illustrate your own book covers or did you hire that 

 U1 

 30:34 

 out? I didn't actually, so I actually, uh, I hired a painter to paint the covers. Um, I did all. So, um, these beautiful paintings are just phenomenal. Um, uh, my painter's name is Katerina. Uh, stroke hach. She is phenomenal. But, uh, I had her do the paintings, and then I just did all of the lettering and all of the all the graphics and all the extra stuff that you got to do for for books. But luckily, thankfully, I'm somebody who knows how to do that stuff, so that worked out great, right? Right. But I wanted a different style than my own illustration style for the book cover, so I went out for that. 

 U2 

 31:19 

 Okay. Do you? Did she send it in a digital form, or did you actually get the painting itself? 

 U1 

 31:24 

 No. She is. She paints digitally. So yeah, I got the. Okay, 

 U2 

 31:27 

 okay. So it's good. I'm still learning the whole arts because, you know, digital paint. And then there's like actual paint, paint with acrylics. So I was like, let me clarify. 

 U1 

 31:36 

 Yeah. She's a she's a digital painter. I, uh, she's great. I mean, just I had her, I had her do the pre lids collection as well. And yes, I wish I had my, uh, my proof copy of Stone and tide is around here somewhere. Somebody somebody reading it, finding all of the formatting errors. So otherwise I would show it to you. But I mean, she's a she's already painted stone and tide and the cover for book three, and, uh, those things are already done, which is just phenomenal. I love having those done and ready, and it makes life so easy, you know, knowing that those are done. I actually, we're, uh, I was talking to her just yesterday about the next thing I need painted from her. And, uh, you know, we're already talking about some of the other books coming after that, so it's very exciting. I love working with her. One of my favorite things about doing the business side of the book stuff has been meeting all the people and getting to work with these people who are doing really neat things. Um, I just just the other day. Uh, just the other day. Signed a contract with our narrator for the entire trilogy. And he is a phenomenal. Uh, he's not somebody that most people have heard of. And his work is going to be so good. Like, I mean, the audiobooks are going to be off the hook, like, they are going to be so cool because he has done it brilliantly. Uh, for example, I sent him samples of, you know, coal and Hazel and Orrin and, and these guys all talking together. And then I sent him, uh, you know, a sample for Carnac and Somalo when they're talking. And his Carnac is, like, on point, like exactly how it sounded in my head. So it is legit. It's going to be so good. And he even did a sample of Purdon and Nera, which, um, was really exciting. So just saying some of that romantic tension and stuff is, are, are he's going to do such a good job. 

 U2 

 33:53 

 Let's get into the nitty gritty of publishing, because that's a lot of people that I talk to as indie authors, and they always have their hot take about what's the hardest about publishing. And so far, I feel like you're enjoying every aspect, and I don't even know if you have a negative thing to say about it, but I'm going to ask you anyways. Do you have, like, something that you had to overcome through this whole process of planning and publishing? 

 U1 

 34:21 

 Yes. Well, plenty. Uh, so because I've done an illustration and I've done a lot of graphic design and stuff for my whole life, I have I love things to be pretty, right, I love things, I want them to be pretty. And so. 1s Sometimes I get in trouble because I the perfectionism thing. Right? And so I write the book cover and the words and the font, and I want, you know, I want the headers over every, you know, chapter. And I want the map to be a beautiful and I want it to look so good when you open it up that you're like, oh, wow, I can't wait, right? And so some of those things required some finagling and some learning. Uh, going through the process, I probably printed ten, um, test prints of Stone and Sky. Uh, for comparison, I printed, uh, three test prints for Stone and tide because I learned so much from the process in the first round that I was like, ah, okay, great. Now I don't have to do that because I already messed up and did that. Like, I don't have to go there. Right. Uh, so it's not been all puppy dogs and roses, right? It's definitely been there's definitely been some things to learn. Um, 1s but I would say currently my one of the hardest things for me right now is figuring out, like, you know, how to, uh, I figured out how to do all sorts of different things through social media and that kind of thing. But there's also this element of, um, you know, selling on Amazon and starting to build up sales and like, uh, working that algorithm there. And unfortunately, you know, it's like you have to be there because that's where everybody like that's where everybody shops. Right? So. 1s There's a lot there that I'm still learning and trying to figure out. Um, but I'm also a learner. And so I took that year where it was like, look, I'm not gonna publish this thing until August 29th. That's when it's going to come out. So I got a year to figure this thing out as best as I can, and I just went and learned everything I could. And sometimes it was hard. Sometimes it was easy. Sometimes I messed it up 14 times before I got it right. Like it's there was so much to it. There was so much work and dedication to learning the process, learning the behind the scenes things to figure out how to do it right, that it took me basically the whole year. Right? So I released the Stone and Sky Preludes collection, um, the month before. So in July, um, as a surprise, because once I figured out all the things on the when I was setting up Stone and Sky, I was like, actually, I could do this. Now, this isn't as bad as I thought. Now that I know how to do this, let's go ahead and do the Do the Preludes collection. So I put together that. I mean, these are stories that I was giving away for free, like, hey, join my readers list. You get seven stories about these characters that you're going to meet in it, and Stone and Sky series. It's so much fun. Let's jump in. Right? But people were enjoying it so much, they were asking me if I was going to have a hard copy of it. And I was like, I don't know. And then sure enough, I was like, actually, I can do this. And so I put together a hard copy and put it out, and people were so glad they were like, oh my gosh, this is so great. I'm so thank you for doing this. And I was like, great, this is wonderful. I'm glad you I'm glad you enjoyed it that much. Right. So, uh, there were plenty of hard things. Um, for me personally, the hard thing right now is the Amazon side of things that I'm trying to figure out and and do better at, uh, but everybody's got their stick, right. Their little form, which what's the hard part for you? Right. And so for me, that's, that's the area that I'm working on. 

 U2 

 38:22 

 Um, it's it still sounds to me that since you were patient, you were able to make those mistakes and learn from them and then enjoy the process at the same time. Like, you're not, like, wanting to quit in the process. I mean, you know, you may have, but 

 U1 

 38:38 

 there were days. 

 U2 

 38:39 

 There were days. I'm not saying you're inhuman. Here 

 U1 

 38:42 

 is 1s cyborg 

 U2 

 38:44 

 author, writer. 

 U1 

 38:46 

 Yeah, yeah, yeah, no doubt. There were some days there were some hard conversations about finances and the budget around here right during that year. So, um. No. Totally agree that being patient was it that honestly, that's probably the biggest advice I can give to anybody starting out. Be patient because oh my gosh, if I was like, hey, I'm going to I'm going to publish this in February last year or this year, right. And I finished it in December. Are you kidding me? All the things that I had to learn and fix and break and then fix and then learn and then fix and then break and then fix all the things that I had to go through and learn. I, I would be way behind because you hear so many times, um, and this is a sad thing, I hate to hear this because you hear so many times authors, you know, a I published my book. 1s Uh. Or I published my book and nobody bought it. I got three book sales and nobody read it, and not even my mom. Right. And frankly, my mom wasn't even one of the first people that bought it, right? Right. I probably only gave her one, like a month ago. Right? Two months ago maybe. 

 U2 

 40:04 

 Oh, by the way. Yeah, but 

 U1 

 40:05 

 point is. Point is you feel so bad because you hear all these guys or ladies that, you know, they published their book, but nobody bought it. Well. 1s Yeah, because you didn't do all the foundational work, right? You didn't do all of this stuff to get ready for the release you just released. And I get it. You're so excited. You just want to publish it. You're like, I've been working on this book forever. I'm so excited for it to finally be done. I'm ready to get it out there. But that's not how it works, right? That's not how the game works, right? So that's tough. But being patient. 1s I. I created being patient to a large majority of the success that we have seen over the last three months. So. Right. I like that advice because I've heard like similar things as well. Don't always rush to publish just because of the fact I'm more of like the editing side of things, making sure it's, you know, the grammar is right, the story flows right. But that is another side of the story I've never heard before was the fact that, hey, you build that foundation to people, know who you are and build that anticipation and then release, 

 U2 

 41:19 

 and then you're already in that. Your patients have shown on TikTok and your shop and things like that. The reward of that patience. Yeah. So I love that. Um, because, you know, your work shows for itself, you know, as a debut author 

 U1 

 41:34 

 and it's and it's been wonderful and, and I've been to so many, uh, you know, I've been to author conferences and other things this year. And, um, I'm talking to other indie authors and they're like, dude, how are you doing what you're doing? And then it was like, I'm just like, dude, I set it up. I set it up. The whole I spent time to set it up and it's not too late. You got your book out there? No. And you're struggling a little bit. Okay, let's. Put a pause on it. Let's figure out the most important things that we have to set up. Let's build that foundation and then continue to go rerelease or whatever. Like do a hey, it's so excited. This book has been out for two years. I can't even believe it. Anniversary. Let's do that right. It's not too late, but the patience is so key for you to actually set everything up for that success. 

 U2 

 42:27 

 Really good. I will have to say, because I wanted to tell you when I saw this. Thank you for putting title chapters. 

 U1 

 42:36 

 Yes. 

 U2 

 42:37 

 You named all your chapters. I know that's random, but I was like, I have to tell him. Um, 1s I did actually. You know what's so funny? I didn't actually do that. Uh oh. Okay. I didn't actually do that originally. So when it was done in December, uh, I didn't have chapter titles. It wasn't until I started writing, uh, Stone and tide that I was like, no, I've got to have chapter titles because I had. So I was writing Stone and tied, but like, I was also in the middle of my final editing. Right? And so I had already been in through three rounds of edits and I've, I've got all these different editors talking to me about, you know, chapter of this chapter that I'm like, I have no idea what chapter. Like, I don't know what's happening in that chapter. I don't know, there's like certain chapters, like chapter nine. I remember what happens in chapter nine. Right. That's a big deal. Right. But like I don't remember. So if you haven't read it, sorry. Chapter nine. 1s Um, but 1s like there's, you know, like, okay, I remember things like that, but like, you're talking to me about chapter 22. 2s Are what's in chapter 22? I don't really remember. So it was it's not even for everybody else. It was for me. So I go back, I pause, okay, pause. We're not writing stone and tied right now. We're going back and we're going to write chapter titles for every chapter in book one, and then we'll continue it from there. I had to do it so that I could remember what the what chapter we're talking about. Yeah. So now that 

 U1 

 44:19 

 they all have names, it was like I named them all something that I would remember what was going on in that chapter. Uh, so you're welcome. Happy accidents. We'll take it. 

 U2 

 44:31 

 Okay. Happy accident. 1s We tackle a lot of some of your best tips for indie authors, which I love what you're sharing. Every single time I jump with an author, they always have something really good. It's not the same. Never the same. 

 U1 

 44:45 

 Um, everybody's like, path to it. It is different, right? Right. I know how to do it. You know, illustration and graphic design. So I paid half as much for my cover than most other people do. You know, that part was easy for me. That part is great. Some people are like, man, my cover, the getting the cover was the most painful part of the process, right? It's just different for everybody, 

 U2 

 45:09 

 right? Everyone? Yeah. 

 U1 

 45:10 

 Everybody comes out their own skills, right? And their own knowledge. Right. So it's pretty interesting. 

 U2 

 45:17 

 So I came across your book, obviously, on TikTok, which is your main platform that, you know, because a lot of people are trying to break into that. What would you say is how you built your platform from the very beginning to get your people to interact with you? Sure, yeah. Um, you can actually go back and if if people want to I mean, you don't have to, but you could go back all the way to my posts back in February, and you can watch a distinct transition over time where I when I started on Booktok, I didn't post for a couple of weeks. I, I made an account in February and I didn't post for several weeks. What I did instead for the first two weeks was trained the algorithm by searching on my account and I searched search, search, search, search, search three times a day for ten minutes. I was in there searching, uh, all things fantasy, book talk or fantasy books or classic fantasy or epic fantasy or any combination I could think of, right? To make sure that TikTok, the algorithm, understood what my account was about. So by the time I was ready to actually post anything now, I was, you know, interacting with different fantasy authors that were writing books that are similar in, in, in style or, you know, their classic style, kind of, you know, more about the adventure and the journey kind of books. Right? And it was I was interacting with these guys. And so I was actually getting followers, you know, just from interacting with some of these people, right? Finding books who talk about fantasy books, classic style fantasy books. Right. So I was actually gaining a few followers just from that, and I hadn't even posted anything. Right. But what I was doing was I was training the TikTok algorithm to know that's what my account was about. So anytime I would be on the like for you page and it came up with anything that wasn't fantasy bookish related, swipe, um, swipe, swipe, get away as fast as possible so that TikTok knew that my account was only about fantasy booktok kind of things. So then when I finally posted my first video, it's a dorky video. It's a goofy like. I mean, it was like Jennifer Lawrence saying like, 

 U1 

 47:45 

 oh, like, what do I do? Right? Like something like that. Right? And I mean, it's literally just me standing in front of my bookcase like. Hello. What do I do? And it's like I put words on it. That's like when you're new to Booktok and or when you're new to fantasy Booktok. And you're looking for your new fantasy besties, right? That was that was that was my first post. I posted another one that day as well. And overnight I had my first 1000. Which is your first goal, right? That's your first goal because you want to be able to put a link in the bio, right? So now you can actually send people to your other stuff like, no, look, this is what I'm doing, right? Like you want to go see this and that's your first goal, right. And, uh, and I posted regularly, I mean, regularly, but I was posting things about fantasy book talk things or like bookish things, fantasy things all in the same vein in that same genre author, fantasy author things all in the same space. Right? 

 U2 

 48:50 

 Right. 

 U1 

 48:51 

 I didn't even start posting about my book until, like, I want to say, it was June. 

 U2 

 48:57 

 Um, right. Okay. 

 U1 

 48:58 

 And it obviously worked and it's been great. And I still try to post things that have nothing to do with my book. I still try to post things about, you know, funny bookish things or booktok or, uh, fantasy books or like, hey, I just finished reading this great book. I just finished listening to the Dragon's Blade trilogy by Michael Miller. Blah blah blah. Like all those things, I still try to post all those things, because those are the things that engage people and they want to be around for. And then they're like, hey, you know what? I like you, you're fun, you're nice. Uh, what's your book about? And then they want to know, rather than you trying to make them want to know if that makes sense. 

 U2 

 49:40 

 Right. Right. Which, you know, I'll just. Because I'm hunting for the 1000 TikTok followers as well. I'll probably take some of your advice for myself. You know, 

 U1 

 49:51 

 do it, do it, do it, do it. It's it's worthwhile. 

 U2 

 49:56 

 So, so. Okay. 1s We got. TikTok advice. Thank you, because I'm pretty sure a lot of people are like wandering the dark. So anything, any tips, anything that you want to share with anybody or things that you that you took away from your experience of writing your first book and onto your next? 

 U1 

 50:19 

 Um, yeah. 

 U2 

 50:20 

 Like to share with the other listeners. Oh, gosh. So since since we talked about, you know, like building the foundation, being patient, right. You want to do all those things, you want to build your website, you want to build your newsletter and you want to build a presence, a social media presence, right? B where you can gather people. Right. And TikTok's really good for that because they actually send your videos out to different people, not your followers. Right? So if you know it was actually sending it to all my followers, I'd be getting 30 something thousand views on every video I say, woo hoo! Right, great. But that's not how you know, that's not how it works. It goes out to different people, right? So have a place to gather. And if TikTok is not to jam, no big deal. If Instagram's your jam, go for it. If YouTube's your jam, go for it. Use what's going to work for you to gather people, but have a place for them to gather. And that's your reader's list and your website, right? Then. Since release, there's a couple of things I learned that were difficult, but. 

 U1 

 51:26 

 Important and actually learn this before you even build your readers list. Um, your family and friends. Most of them aren't going to care about your book. I sorry, I love you. They they love you, but they're probably not going to care about you. Book. For the most part, when they start seeing you do something like successful and they're you've got this following and you've got this other thing going, then they're like, oh, hey, let me get a copy of your book, uh, and go ahead and you can buy it on my website. Right? I mean, like, the fact of the 

 U2 

 51:57 

 matter is you had a chance. 

 U1 

 52:00 

 Yeah, right. Most of your family and friends, they're just not going to be. Nobody's going to be as excited about your book as you are. Period. End of story. That affected their, um, until people start reading it and then they're really excited about your book and you're surprised and you're like, wow, you love it. Like, oh my gosh, I 

 U2 

 52:17 

 love it. It's just not my man myself and I 

 U1 

 52:21 

 yeah, I just thought it was me. Right. And so, uh, one of the hardest things to learn though is don't get down, uh, you're going to get negative reviews, you're going to get trolls, you're going to get all these other people that are just mean. Just be positive. Be loving, be joyful, be generous. This is your life and this is the story that you want to tell. Tell the story you want to tell. Because the fact of the matter is, is if you tell the story that everybody else wants you to tell, you're not telling your story and you're not going to have as much fun. Period. Um. 

 U2 

 52:56 

 I love that you are like the author guru. 2s Or the Yoda if you want to get ahead. All right. 3s Have fun. You, master. 3s Um. All right, well, just to wrap things up, just say where you can find your book, where we can find you as an author, because you're very fascinating person. And I would love for everyone to start following you to, to just follow your content and to get your book as well. 

 U1 

 53:29 

 Yeah. That's wonderful. Uh, so you can get Stone and Sky pretty much anywhere. It's like on all the stores, but if you want an autograph copy, hit me up in the TikTok shop, or you can hit me up on my website at zd.com. Um, but also I like to tell people, I always like to tell people and remind people that if if you're not ready to jump in, like right away, like, I don't, I don't know if I want to buy it right away. It look, you can get the stone in sky Preludes for free. I give them a way out of people for free in my readers list. You can get those, um, at Free Fantasy fiction.com. Super easy to remember. I was like, let's use some alliteration. That was just my right brain getting fun. Um, free fantasy fiction.com. Super easy to remember. And right there you can sign up for my readers list and you'll get seven free prelude stories, uh, about characters that you're going to meet in Stone and Sky and characters that, you know, come back in the trilogy as you go on. So, uh, definitely something to jump into. And of course, I'm on all the so basically all the social medias. So but you can find all those links at my and my website, xsd.com, 

 U2 

 54:43 

 and I will just be sure I'll put that all those links up in the description of this podcast episode so you can find them easily, you know, because on Monday, you know, 

 U1 

 54:53 

 yeah, it's hard to read. Hey, that's the other reason why I went with free Fantasy fiction.com, because I was like, who's gonna remember how to spell diamante? They're like, what is it? What is that? What are you saying? 

 U2 

 55:08 

 You're just you just doing these quick, like, tips just to make it easier. Not only just for readers. Just for you as yourself. Right? 4s Well, I appreciate so much that you jumped on this podcast as my guest, and I appreciate you sharing all your knowledge and your book with us. I, I wish there was more time, but I feel like, um, yeah, we have to end it someday. But, you know, I really appreciate 

 U1 

 55:36 

 you all. Well, 1s well, I 

 U2 

 55:39 

 really we'll just have you come on again. We'll 

 U1 

 55:41 

 come back around and do it again another day. Right? That's what I mean. You 

 U2 

 55:44 

 got more serious up your sleeves. So I have we'll get you back on. So that's real readers, right? Yeah. 1s Well, uh, readers, thank you for listening to this podcast. And I enjoy, uh, talking to you. All the things fantasy books definitely hit up on ZS Diamanti, , with his new book, Stone and Sky, and just keep up to date with his new book store coming out. So thank you, readers, and catch you later. 

 U1 

 56:09 

 Bye, guys. 



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